Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

alice1I wonder where to start, which rather shadows this film. After a wildly ill-judged (in my opinion) opening, this film took what seemed ages to actually get started following a stodgy series of expositional scenes, only really settling down at the halfway point, from which it was fine, albeit terribly  uninvolving- maybe even boring.

But I’m hardly the target audience of fluff like this, and if I were to throw this film back a few decades to my younger self back in the 1970s, I would likely have been enthralled. I mean, technically, sure, this things something of a marvel, the many effects houses throwing all sorts of amazing imagery on the screen. Its difficult sometimes to appreciate in this CGI-dominated age just how remarkable some of this imagery in modern films can be compared to what we were used to. I’m sure young children lap this stuff up and are thoroughly thrilled by it. So yes, I’m hardly the target audience, but… but really, it seems pretty wild and without much reason.  I can imagine the studio chiefs standing behind the effects boffins screaming “More pixels! More pixels!”

So my issues were from the vary start with a wildly extravagant and spectacular opening sequence of a naval chase/battle through a raging storm. I mean… well, this is real-world stuff apparently, and its wholly a subjective view, but I thought the whole point of these fairy-tales of characters entering fantastic worlds is that the fantastic worlds are, er, more fantastic than reality? I’m not suggesting that the film should have filmed the real-world stuff in black and white and jump into colour in the fantasy land as per Wizard of OZ, but there was a point to that ageless classic when it took that conceit. At least this film should have cemented, I think, the reality of the real world of Alice by layering it in some kind of realism. As it is, the opening is wilder and dafter than Pirates of the Carribean, and features the unlikely sight of a female captain of the high seas in Alice (Mia Wasikowska, utterly slumming it here, like the rest of the cast) in preposterous CGI high-jinks on wholly digital seas.  Going through the mirror after this stuff seems rather pointless, we’re clearly in fantasy-land already.

By the time the plot finally gets going we’re mid-way through the film and have already been assaulted by endless CGI. Really, films like this are as much animated movies per Pixar’s stuff as they are live-action. Much less coherent, too, to be honest. It certainly looks pretty but it is wholly boring- but, as I have noted earlier, I’m not the target audience- this films arrives about forty-odd years too late for me. I’m sure its got its fans but they are surely hardly the discerning lot, really.

The rest of us really should avoid such dross.

Pirate Zombies Ahoy!

potc2017.59: Pirates of the Carribean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017)

Or maybe they are more ghosts than zombies (Does it matter? Does anyone care?).

Ahoy there, shipmates- just how do you review, in this day and age, a POTC film?

Answer: I don’t think you can. LIke the Transformers films and quite possibly the Fast & The Furious films (which I haven’t seen), at this point the POTC series defies criticism. Strange to think that films reach some kind of zenith/nadir (delete as appropriate), where public opinion defies all logic and reason. Although box-office was down for this fifth entry in the series, that may be more indicative of a general malaise in box office than the films popularity (particularly in America, where all sorts of films have fallen foul this year).

Curiously, the film sports a different title in America, with the subtitle ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’  instead of  ‘Salazar’s Revenge’. Was it a marketing thing? Not that it’s the kind of thing that’ll keep me awake at night, but I am curious. The problem with the title we’ve got is that I don’t think Salazar was ever mentioned in the earlier entries so his name and ‘Revenge’ doesn’t particularly mean much, and at the very least whilst ‘Dead Men Tell No Tales’ doesn’t really reflect any particular plot point, it least it refers to a line spoken in the movie.

At any rate, I’m wittering on because I can’t really find much to say about it, except that it ends with some sense of closure which suggests it might be the (welcome) end of the franchise. If so, it isn’t a bad film at all, Pirates-wise you understand, but if they go off on another tangent then this finale rather betrays any good will I have for it.

As it is, it has a few laughs, some terrifyingly deep plot holes, some very good visual effects and a whole heap of excesses which just insult decent film-making and general common-sense. I guess kids everywhere love it,  but the franchise is looking rather tired now (well it looked a bit tired a few films back) and perhaps it should be laid to rest. Unfortunately, whether it’s artistically exhausted or not, whether there’s another POTC story that desperately needs to be told or not, the question that will impact whether we see  another POTC film is simply what the suits at Disney think of this films box-office.  Which is why the series got to this point anyway: money. The greed of the studio and the greed of the film-makers and the cast (I’m looking at you Mr Depp) has more bearing on modern film than such old considerations as originality and quality.